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Period of continuous employment

The period of continuous employment is used to work out if employees qualify for certain rights based on length of service, like protection from unfair dismissal.

If an employee never worked for you or an associated employer in the past then their period of continuous service will just be the time since they started work for you.

However, if the employee previously worked for you or an associated employer, that earlier period of service may need to be counted too.

A gap of at least one week (ending on a Saturday) between the two employment periods normally will break continuity so you can ignore the earlier service unless:

  • the employee was re-employed within four weeks following redundancy

  • temporary cessation of work or strike/lock-out

Fixed-term employees

Fixed-term contracts can be useful where it is known from the outset that the employment will end after a defined period.

Fixed-term employees are protected by law from being treated less favourably than permanent employees and, if they have enough service, from unfair dismissal.

Fixed-term contracts that are renewed or replaced after four years' qualifying service are automatically converted into a contract of indefinite duration.

Business sales and transfers

Employees have special protections when their assigned business unit is sold or transferred. This applies to:

  • mergers and acquisitions

  • insourcing and outsourcing

  • award or transfer of service contracts

  • the transfer of leases

Employees must be consulted and the recipient inherits employees with existing contracts and liabilities.

Consultation rights

Employees have the right to be consulted over health and safety arrangements in their workplace and special consultation procedures apply if certain situations arise including:

  • proposals to make 20 or more employees redundant

  • proposals to take measures affecting employees in connection with any business transfer

  • a request is made in a certain way to set up a body to represent workers

Other good sources of information about employment law include:

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